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SideChannel Inc. (SDCH) Notes Importance of Cybersecurity for Cannabis Industry Operational Technology as Hybrid Work Models Expand

  • SideChannel Inc. is a cybersecurity services and technology provider that assists small- to medium-sized businesses unable to budget for full time on-site cybersecurity staffing
  • SideChannel supplies virtual chief information security officer (“vCISO”) expert services on a contract basis at an expense that is lower than the cost of regular full-time CISO staffing
  • SideChannel CEO noted the importance of SMB network security protocols in a recent CISOlife podcast, specifically in regard to cannabis operations that are often small and cash-rich without significant cyber protections in place
  • Growing economic uncertainty is expected to increase the number of SMBs that may fall under the cybersecurity poverty line at a time when hybrid work models utilizing greater numbers of remote work access employees is increasing

Following the turbulent years of dodging and then dealing with COVID in business environments, a large number of companies are regularizing hybrid workplace models that incorporate remote access as a job feature worthy of ad promotion. Unfortunately, this approach is also capable of letting bad actors wreak havoc on a company’s operations.

Businesses below the cybersecurity poverty line, in particular, run the risk of seeing operations upended if hackers gain access to vital company data or operational technology (“OT”), since many entities such as smaller businesses, non-profits, and local government agencies, may let security slide, as they feel they lack the capital and employee acumen necessary to maintain a secure computer network.

Cybersecurity services and technology provider SideChannel (OTCQB: SDCH) helps such companies overcome budget limitations through outsourcing network security responsiveness. SideChannel’s virtual chief information security officer (“vCISO”) services allow companies to hire cybersecurity experts on a short-term contract basis that is less expensive than retaining a full-time in-house CISO.

SideChannel CEO Brian Haugli highlighted the importance of CISO services in the cannabis industry, as one example, in a recent episode of Haugli’s periodic CISOlife podcast.

“I’m seeing that the cannabis sector, in what it’s doing, where it’s going, is going to need to start really taking a hard look at the security posture of its own operations to secure its product, its supply chain, as well as its future,” Haugli said after outlining cannabis operations’ reliance on automation to manage many vital functions and communicate data to management (https://ibn.fm/AtEKw).

“You need to be able to control access to these (network processes), otherwise any type of bidirectional access into your OT environment is going to cause you problems,” Haugli added. “What happens if you’re dependent on light, and now light is turned off. Or watering is impacted, or the wrong strain is being followed and you distribute the wrong inventory to the wrong area. These can all cause very real problems.”

As a retailer, a cannabis outlet is vulnerable to all the same cyber risks as other product sellers. When the third-party delivery contractor for the monopoly wholesaler of adult-use marijuana in Canada’s most valuable market was hit by a cyber attack in August, delivery orders were temporarily suspended, stores fretted about inventory and whether important data was exposed (https://ibn.fm/MkkQg).

Radiant Logic CISO Chad McDonald told cybersecurity journal CSO that the cybersecurity poverty line will be defined in 2023 as company teams’ ability to cope with challenges along three major axes – ongoing digital transformation, continued migration to the cloud, and the movement towards zero trust.

“As we verge on the edge of recession, the cybersecurity poverty line will only grow in 2023,” he stated (https://ibn.fm/Vypx4). “It is a rather unique time for the IT landscape and one that past generations have never experienced.”

Haugli noted that most OT professionals will state that companies should, at a minimum, have segmentation between the front office and back office operations within the OT environment, which he applied specifically to the cannabis industry.

“If I’m a CISO, I’m looking for this type of microsegmentation,” he said. “I’m looking at specifically the security of these (cannabis operation) sensors, the access to these sensors, where the data is going and who’s using and how the data is being used.”

For more information, visit the company’s website at www.SideChannel.com.

NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to SDCH are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/SDCH

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